Lance Zierlein's Z-report

Demaryius Thomas trade helps Texans now and later

Thomas will be called on to take Will Fuller's spot in the offense. Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Texans sucked…. and then they didn’t. Like that, the Texans went from a three game losing streak to a five game winning streak and for the first time all season, the offense exploded with big performances on the ground and through the air.

With the way the AFC South is trending, it is very apparent that this is the Texans division to lose and they showed before the trade deadline that they have no desire to let that happen. With Will Fuller out for the year with an ACL tear, the Texans made a move that should help them this year and might be an important move for the near future.

The move for now

Will Fuller’s mere presence on the field is extremely important to the Texans offense because his speed alters how defenses can align against the Texans. When Fuller is on the field, safeties have to respect his speed and that forces safeties off the line of scrimmage which helps the running game. Fuller also has the ability to stretch the field and hit “chunk plays” down the field which is a key element in the Texans offense going from pedestrian to explosive.

While Demaryius Thomas doesn’t have the same speed as Will Fuller (and isn’t as good a player at this juncture of his career), he is still a big body with the ability to compete for the deep ball against smaller cornerbacks. It’s also worth noting that Thomas is a quality blocker in the running game and can help spring the wide-flowing run plays to his side.

The Texans had to make a move. They had to. They have no real wide receiver depth and they needed to find a respectable target that defenses had to respect opposite DeAndre Hopkins. Fuller wasn’t a big, physical receiver, but Thomas is and that could also help with the success rate in the redzone for the Texans.

The move for later

Can the Texans trust Will Fuller’s health? In order, starting from his rookie season, Fuller has missed, 2, 6, and now 9 games (by season’s end). Fuller isn’t a big guy so worrying about how he holds up to the physical nature of the game is obviously a concern. The bigger concerns might be that these soft tissue injuries are creeping in every year and can be re-aggravated.

We all love what Fuller has brought to the table as an explosive target and his substantially improved hands were one of the best stories of the year. By giving up a fourth round pick, the Texans appear to be ready to take on Thomas for the near future. Thomas will cost the Texans $14M next year if they want him to play out his contract. Or, they could look to give him a contract extension of two or three years and lower that base contract.

Don’t get me wrong, the Texans could let Thomas walk after this year, but I can’t see them giving up a 4th round pick for a rental player. With Thomas on the team next season, you have a strong four-man rotation with KeKe Coutee, Fuller, Thomas, Hopkins when all are healthy, and you still have a good two-man tandem when Coutee and Fuller are out again.

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Walter will host The Night of Champions. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images.

In 2014, Austin Walter rushed for 2,704 yards and 34 touchdowns as a senior at Crosby High School. Despite falling short of a state title, Walter was named District 19-4A MVP and finished his prep career with a little over 6,000 rushing yards on 613 carries (6,062 yds). Seven years later, Walter will be returning to his high school alma mater to give back to the community that laid the foundation for an NFL career as a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

"It's a blessing to be able to come from a small town and be one of the guys who made it out," Walter said. "Not a lot of people made it to the NFL or the NBA from Crosby High School. To be one of the first, it's an amazing feeling. It's a blessing and an honor."

On Thursday, April 15, Walter will host The Night of Champions to benefit the Crosby High School Booster Club from 6-9 p.m. The event will be a weight lifting competition at Crosby High School for student-athletes around the area to showcase their talents and abilities.

In addition to hosting a weight lifting showcase, Walter will also share his life teachings with student-athletes in attendance. Perseverance and not taking no for an answer will be one of the most vital messages the Crosby native will share with aspiring pro-athletes. It's the two virtues Walter has leaned on from little league football to the NFL. And as an undrafted prospect in 2019, it was that same morale that helped him outshine six other running backs during the 49ers rookie training camp that same year.

"Before I started playing football in high school, a lot of people thought I was too small," Walter said. "They thought because we played little league and not in middle school we would not make it in high school. My twin brother [Ashton Walter] and I did not listen to that. We just kept pushing forward."

"When I left Rice, people thought I was going to play in the Canadian league or AFF, and I did not take no for an answer. I believed in myself. And I believed in God. And if I can make it out of a small town like Crosby, anybody can make it...It's the mentality I've had my entire life of not quitting. I feel like that is what got me to the point I am at right now."

Whether their life goal is to play in the NFL or not, Walter's primary objective for The Night of Champions is to be an inspiration and show kids they can find success despite their environment. It is one of the things the former XFL running back (Dallas Renegades) wished he would have seen growing up in Crosby.

After graduating from Crosby High School, Walter went on to have a record-breaking collegiate career at Rice University. He became one of two players in school history to rush for over 1,500 yards (1,744 yds.) and 1,000 kick return yards (1,548 yds.) in four seasons with the Owls. In February, Walter signed a one-year contract extension to re-join the 49ers ahead of the 2021 NFL season.

Click here to learn more about The Night of Champions at Crosby High School or support Walter and the Crosby High School Booster Club.

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